My Sporting Greats XI


By Melchett Mike
January 23, 2011
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[Off-topic slightly, but a refreshing break from anti-Semites! . . . Having a weakness for lists, I compiled the following in response to an invitation from Haaretz sports writer Jerrold Kessel, in his weekend On the Couch column, for readers' "Dream Teams." Mine was published in Friday's paper . . . replete, needless to say, with p*ss-poor editing – how dare those clowns edit melchett mike! – and typos. The following, with a few additions (essentially photographs and video links – see http://melchettmike.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/my-sporting-greats-xi/), is what I actually sent Mr. Kessel.]

An eleven (plus manager), in more or less chronological order, of sporting characters, events and memories which left their mark on this sports nut . . .

1. Peter Jones The late BBC Radio football commentator, who always painted the scene so vividly and with such a wonderful turn of phrase, is responsible for my love of the medium (my first career). As a boy, I relished nothing more than listening to Jones's Welsh brogue, snuggled under the duvet with my ridiculously large first radio.

2. Derek Randall The clown prince of English cricket, and the greatest fielder I ever saw. He will be remembered for his brilliant 174 in the 1977 Centenary Test, featuring his defiant cap-doffing to Dennis Lillee following yet another bouncer. I spotted "Arkle" a few years ago, walking around the perimeter of Lords, and just had to go up and say "thanks."

3. World Cup Finals 1978 My 'first' World Cup. From the wonderful BBC theme tune, to Peru's opening game dismantling of Scotland (whose manager Ally MacLeod had been bigging-up their chances), to Archie Gemmill's wonder goal against the Dutch . . . everything about the tournament, in Argentina, was pure magic to a 10-year old. And England weren't even there!

4. Bjorn Borg The masterful, ice-cool Swede, who would simply glide across the court, was the nearest I ever came to attraction to a male! And his 1980 Wimbledon final victory over John McEnroe – with its incredible 18-16 tiebreak, lasting 20 minutes, won by the American after he had saved 5 match points – was pure theatre.

5. Miruts Yifter The Ethiopian, nicknamed "the Shifter," who won 5,000 and 10,000 metre Golds at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, would sit at the back of the field and only "kick" in the final 300 metres, reducing BBC commentator David Coleman to near-hysteria, and me and my late father to tears of joy. Yifter would not reveal his age – guessed to be anywhere between 33 and 42 – telling reporters, "Men may steal my chickens, men may steal my sheep, but no man can steal my age."

6. Botham's Ashes, 1981 Dismissed for a "pair" in, and as England captain following, the 2nd Test at Lords (with England one-nil down in the series), his heroics thereafter – including the series-changing 149 not out in the 3rd Test at Headingley, 5 for 1 in the 4th at Edgbaston, and 118 in the 5th at Old Trafford – were the stuff of fairytale.

7. Rugby League Challenge Cup Final 1985: Wigan 28 Hull 24 If there has been a better match in any sport (never mind either rugby code), I haven't seen it. And it featured Ray French's exhilarating commentary: "As they say in the north, he could "sidestep a thrupenny bit," this lad!"

8. Paul Gascoigne A genius of a footballer, whose off-field antics – for example (and there are many), telling his new employer, the president of Lazio, that he looked like Russ Abbot – are the stuff of legend. And, of course, he cried in Italy.

9. Sid Waddell The wonderfully entertaining Geordie-born, Cambridge-educated darts commentator. During a match at Frimley Green: "There couldn't be more excitement in here if Jesus Christ walked in and ordered a cheese sandwich!" Brilliant.

10. Geoffrey Boycott Like French and Waddell, a northerner "worth the entrance money on his own" . . . not for his scientific approach to batting, but his refreshingly outspoken, no-nonsense views and "corridor of uncertainty" insight from the commentary box.

11. FA Cup 3rd Round (3.1.2010): Manchester Utd 0 Leeds United 1 Upsetting the Great Satan, then two divisions above, at Old Trafford was a reminder of the special type of joy that only sport can bring.

Manager: Ian Holloway The Blackpool boss may be considered a strange choice of Sporting Great, but he is a rare beacon of humour and sanity in a sport – now dominated by money – with precious little of either.

I invite JC readers to add their own Sporting Greats XI by comment to http://melchettmike.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/my-sporting-greats-xi/

COMMENTS

Armchair Quarterback

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 09:27

Rate this:

-4 points

How about Marco Tardelli's goal in the 1982 world cup final ?

Surely Tardelli was the most complete footballer there ever has been


Melchett Mike

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 09:48

Rate this:

3 points

The celebration was more memorable than the goal.

Tardelli? "The most complete footballer there ever has been"?! More "complete" than John Charles (to name just one)?

I think you have had too many Peronis, Armchair! ;-)


Armchair Quarterback

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 12:30

Rate this:

-3 points

I know my place


Armchair Quarterback

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 12:43

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-3 points

John Charles is up there for sure but Tardelli operated in a much tougher ers and was the consumate professional

ask kevin keegan o))

burp


Armchair Quarterback

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 12:46

Rate this:

-3 points

An what about

Shane Warne

Brian O'Driscoll

Jean Pierre Rives

I like this game its fun


Joe Millis

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 13:26

Rate this:

-3 points

Ricardo Villa, that goal against Man City in 1981 Cup Final replay.
Jimmy Greaves, against Man Utd, 1965.
Glenn Hoddle, against Watford, can't remember the season.
Gareth Bale in Spurs v. Inter Milan, 2010.


Armchair Quarterback

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 14:49

Rate this:

-2 points

Well we could go on forever I guess

How about the French " try from the end of the world " in Auckland ?


Melchett Mike

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 15:59

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1 point

Glad to see that you take your Sporting Greats from far and wide, Joe! ;-)


Armchair Quarterback

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 16:54

Rate this:

-2 points

He does doesn't he Mike ? Maybe he should title it sporting greats of the A10

The fun bit of this is we get reminded of stuff that weren't in the forefront of our minds and we can go to you tube and relive it all


Melchett Mike

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 17:20

Rate this:

1 point

Don't know if you've seen it, but all the links are on my blog at http://melchettmike.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/my-sporting-greats-xi/


Armchair Quarterback

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 17:30

Rate this:

-2 points

ok will do would return the compliment if my incomparable genius extended so far as to do blogs and links and stuff

Joe are you old enough to remember the push and shove thing they said about Spurs in the bobby smith days ? no im not my dad refers to it lol

An he was a Preston North End supporter til he married my mum an became a Hull kingston Rovers supporter


Melchett Mike

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 17:40

Rate this:

1 point

My dad was also "proud Preston" . . . in fact, he was Tom Finney's family doctor. I spent the afternoon with the great man a few years ago, when he invited me as his guest for a game at Deepdale.


Joe Millis

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 18:27

Rate this:

-2 points

If we are talking rugby, then there's "that" try by the Barbarians against the All Blacks. And there's Ben Youngs's effort against the Australians.
In cricket nothing beats Shane warne's wonder ball against mike gatting (if it had been a cheese and pickle sandwich, he'd have got it).
it was push and run and it was just before my time.


Armchair Quarterback

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 18:36

Rate this:

-2 points

Joe the barbarians are mickey mouse games the try from the end of the world and ben youngs effort were in competitive edge games

sorry push and run thats it

in cricket nothing beats Shane warne's wonder ball against mike gatting (if it had been a cheese and pickle sandwich, he'd have got it). ........couldnt agree more

My dad was also "proud Preston" . . . in fact, he was Tom Finney's family doctor. I spent the afternoon with the great man a few years ago, when he invited me as his guest for a game at Deepdale.

wow really ? no chit ?


Armchair Quarterback

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 18:50

Rate this:

-2 points

sorry push and run thats it

i got mixed up with playing shove halfpenny in the pub


Joe Millis

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 18:53

Rate this:

-2 points

Barbar matches maybe mickey mouse now, but when the great JPR and Gareth Edwards played they were very serious affairs.


Armchair Quarterback

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 19:02

Rate this:

-2 points

hmmmm not quite the same as a full blooded test match between old enemies joe like in a barbarians game folks would say well they may have lost but they threw the ball around in true barba tradition so they threw the ball around under no real pressure

still dont negate the degree of skill involved in THAT try though


Joe Millis

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 19:05

Rate this:

-2 points

Not in those days. They were full blooded tests then for the opposition.


Armchair Quarterback

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 19:08

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-2 points

Personally i like watching videos of the old French teams at the Stade de Colombes when the camberabero brothers were leading the french forwards and forwards ran with the ball and interpassed before forwards became mere donkeys

much more exciting then watching backs run with the ball


Armchair Quarterback

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 19:11

Rate this:

-2 points

Not in those days. They were full blooded tests then for the opposition.

we wont fall out over this one i will set up an enquiry and you can set up one tee hee


Armchair Quarterback

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 19:15

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-2 points

ok on a lighter note is not Philippe Sella the second greatest outside centre ever ( after Brian O'Driscoll) ?


Joe Millis

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 19:16

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-2 points

I still remember serge blanco and Phillipe Sela running England ragged at twickenham.


Armchair Quarterback

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 19:37

Rate this:

-1 points

o))


Melchett Mike

Mon, 01/24/2011 - 13:48

Rate this:

1 point

Well, you two get yer "thinking caps" on - I'm sure Armchair's gone one, too! - and post your XIs here: http://melchettmike.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/my-sporting-greats-xi/

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